CES 2020 Showed Us the Path to a Better Future
Yes, a lot of it was ridiculous. But a handful of tech trends seem like legitimately good news.
There’s a lot to be cynical about at CES. Behind the flashy hype and big promises, products often underdeliver or never materialize. And at worst, the tech sold as “innovation” on the conference floor winds up creating new problems in the world, like ubiquitous surveillance, misinformation, or incomplete security.
But it’s also true that sometimes technology actually does end up making our lives better — that’s why we’re drawn to it in the first place. These are a few of the trends I observed walking the show floor that I can say, with sober eyes, have a decent shot of having a positive impact in 2020.
5G could free you from your home internet
There is a lot of murky marketing and reason for skepticism around 5G technology. For example, some carriers like AT&T have started calling a slightly improved 4G network “5G” when it really isn’t. And 5G will likely not, for instance, give you download speeds of 25 gigabits per second, despite what some field tests have technically shown. Under the right circumstances, however, 5G networks do hold a lot of promise. Rolling out faster home internet is an expensive affair, requiring cable companies to physically upgrade the lines that run to each individual house, which often leaves rural customers lagging behind.
5G has long since promised to change that, bringing ludicrously fast download speeds to mobile devices. Early 5G tests have shown near-gigabit speeds — the kind of speeds Google promised with its much more cumbersome and eventually failed Fiber internet project — while even “disappointing” results are in the 250Mbps range. If your phone gets faster internet than your Wi-Fi at home, at a certain point you might start questioning why you’re using home internet to begin with.
Tech companies are gearing up to answer that question in 2020. Today, phones are among the few devices that connect directly to cell networks for data, while most other devices like laptops, tablets, and smart home gadgets connect to Wi-Fi for internet access. At CES this year, that started to change. Lenovo announced…